Armed forces dAy 2014 - Lance Publishing Ltd

menorah
THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ARMED FORCES JEWISH COMMUNIT Y
Autumn 2014
Afghanistan
for the final time...
The First
World War
Centenary
Jewish Military
Contribution
Armed
forces
Day 2014
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menorah
THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ARMED FORCES JEWISH COMMUNIT Y
From the
Editor
Col Martin
Newman DL FCIPR
T
he past few
months have been
difficult and often
uncomfortable
for members of the
Jewish communities
throughout the world, and
particularly in Europe.
Without entering into a
discussion about the politics
of the Middle East and the
recent hostilities, it has created
a situation where many
opponents of Israel feel they
are able to comment without
differentiating between Jews
and the Government of a
country with whom they do not
see eye to eye. We have even
seen it on the streets of the UK;
Hitler salutes, desecration of
Jewish Cemeteries, anti-Semitic
posters, damage to Jewish
owned shops and businesses
and elderly Jews attacked on
the street. Comments that
would have been subdued
in the past are now creeping
out at fashionable cocktail
parties. The media often fails
to disguise poorly reported
bias. We are in danger of
returning to the days of Oswald
Mosley with anti-Semitism
becoming acceptable again.
We are fortunate in the
Armed Forces, an organisation
where racism is not tolerated
and where people of all faiths
and none, occasional black
humour and banter apart, mix
well as an extended community.
We have proved that you can be
both a proud Brit and a proud
Jew. One hundred years ago
the Jewish Chronicle heralded
‘Britain has been good to the
Jews. Jews will be good for
Britain’. The now famous
recruiting message was taken
up by the Chief Rabbi and some
60,000 Jews answered the call
to arms. Our numbers serving
MENORAH | 4
Contents
30
were disproportionately high,
as were deaths, casualties
and decorations. The same
applied to WWII. Three
Jewish Battalions of the Royal
Fusiliers (the Judeans) were
formed from volunteers to
serve in the Middle East. As
a faith we earned our spurs.
In the following pages
you will read of the five
Jewish VCs won valiantly
during WWI in addition to
splendid related articles by
Elkan Levy and Padre Reuben
Livingstone. It was the first
time we saw Jewish chaplains
in uniform on the front line.
Next year sees the 100th
anniversary of Gallipoli and
the formation of the Zion
Mule Corps, the forerunner
of the Judeans and the 70th
Anniversary of the Liberation
of Belsen by British Troops. We
are in the process of arranging
commemorations for those
these events including services
in London and Hohne. Full
information will be circulated
in sufficient time for our
community members to become
involved alongside the veterans
of AJEX. As our veterans grow
older the baton is being passed
to those of us who are still in
uniform and it is increasingly
important that we support
AJEX in flying the flag.
Finally I must congratulate
our chaplain, Rabbi Reuben
Livingstone on successfully
completing his PQO course
at Sandhurst. As we
approach Rosh Hashana
and the High Holydays the
Honorary Officers of the
Jewish Committee for HM
Forces and the Friends of
Jewish Servicemen and
Women wish you and your
families a very happy, peaceful
and fulfilling New Year.
Autumn 2014
From the Editor.....................04
Another Amport success......06
Lessons of history.................06
Padre’s Corner.......................07
The first world war centenary
the Jewish military
contribution ..........................08
British Jewry in the
great war................................12
1914-1918 The five Jewish
VCs of WWI...........................16
A subbie with style................19
Revision’s Batlskin is the
future for total head and
face protection.......................20
In Focus..................................22
Afghanistan for the
final time... probably.............24
New historical Sefer Torah
for armed forces ...................28
Diary dates 2014...................28
More kosher ratpacks...........29
A Jewish serviceman of two
world wars remembered.......29
Get cooking apple
cinnamon cake......................31
The liberation of
Bergen-Belsen........................32
Armed Forces Day 2014........34
22
34
32
22
08
menorah
THe mAGAZINe for THe Armed force s JeWIsH commUNIT y
The Menorah Team
Submissions
On the Cover…
Editor: Col Martin Newman DL FCIPR
Associate Editor: Rabbi R Livingstone CF
Designer: Rowena Wilson
Advertising: Tammie Ridler (01536 526667)
[email protected]
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Write: The Editor
Menorah Magazine
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Email: [email protected]
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Remembering the Fallen
Hard copy may be sent by post. For digital submissions,
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AUTUmN 2014
AfGHANIsTAN
for THe fINAl TIme...
Sponsors
Menorah Magazine gratefully
thanks all the sponsors,
donors and contributors
who have made this edition
of the magazine possible.
THe fIrsT
World WAr
ceNTeNAry
JeWIsH mIlITAry
coNTrIbUTIoN
Armed
forces
dAy 2014
MENORAH | 5
PADRE's
Corner
By Rabbi Reuben Livingstone CF
LESSONS
OF HISTORY
I
©
By David Bentata (Gibraltar 2014)
Another
Amport
success
The annual Armed Forces Jewish
Families Weekend and reunion
was again a resounding success
and a complete sell-out.
G
uest speakers
this year included
Colonel Richard
Kemp, a great
friend of our community
and Yanky Fachler, author,
military historian and experts
on Jewish military history.
Interesting explanatory
Shabbat services were
conducted by our padres,
Rabbis Reuben Livingstone
and Simon Taylor and Colonel
(Rabbi) Menachem Sebbag
of the Netherlands ~ the
Geordie Dutchman. We were
joined for Shabbat dinner by
the Chaplain General and
the Chaplain-in-Chief of the
RAF was our guest at our post
Shabbat regimental dinner.
The chairman, Colonel
Martin Newman presented
both our guests with frames
Judeans uniform prints
and then the tables were
turned when PMC, Major
Danny Sharpe presented
him with a framed original
Judeans Fusilier cap badge, a
particularly rare item. Again
we were entertained by the
band of Hampshire and Isle
of Wight Army Cadet Force.
The weekend also offered
an valuable opportunity
to discuss matters of
importance to all and meet
fellow military Jews in a
convivial and informative
environment. Our chaplains
and the committee are now
working on January 2015 and
wee look forward to meeting
more new faces over the
weekend 9-11 January 2015.
Stop it!…. Enough!.... No more!
So much violence, so much killing
In the name of any god, any faith
Brought to man by some demonic wraith
With actions so graphic, so chilling
No more news… no more Wars
No more politics of violent madness
While the life of so many is ended
By those who claim to be so offended
Bringing down only death and sadness
We measured the world by our yardstick
Freedoms we assume from birth
Won by the struggles of past generations
Creating tolerance as the main foundations
Yes… we thought democracy had worth
But forgot the lessons of History
Was not Rome the height of culture?
Yet a man considered a savage
With elephants and army did ravage
And Rome fell to this bearded vulture
There is no redemption, no mercy
When fighting against the fanatic
Who values death by bullet or knife
Far more than you value your own precious life
I see this new horror has become systematic
Rosh Hashana
Wisdom
Rosh Hashanah is
not only the New
Year but also the
day of judgement.
As such, it is the
time for us to reevaluate and reflect
on our lives and to
confront ourselves
and ask questions.
n the prayers we ask a
question: Im kevanimIm ka’avadim. Are we
to be considered proud
children of G-d, or are we merely
servants? Are we the masters
of our own choices, or are we
the victims of bad choices?
We are accustomed to
highlight the antiquity of
the Jew. We are an ancient
people, sometimes called
Historicissimus - the most
historical of nations. No other
people has lived as long as
Israel, nor contributed in the
same way to the treasures of
civilisation; nor suffered such
calamities in every epoch of its
existence! We are proud of our
resilience. We have outlived
our persecutors. What is the
secret of our survival? What is
the source of our strength?
Some maintain that,
paradoxically, relentless
oppression and anti-Semitism
have ensured our longevity. According to this view, had
we not so often been rendered
avadim – servants and slaves,
we might have ceased to be
banim - children who are worthy
survivors and scions of our
heroic ancestors. The Israelites
followed Moses out of Egypt
because they were persecuted by
Pharaoh. One thousand years
later, in Persia, Queen Esther
revealed her Jewish identity and
our nation was salvaged. Why?
Because Haman threatened
to exterminate us. On this
view, both Hitler and Bevin
contributed – unintentionally
– to the survival of our people.
Yes, Jews do shine spiritually
in adversity. If you stopped any
Jew a hundred years ago on the
muddy, impoverished, decrepit
streets of Galicia and asked
him ‘Vos macht a yid?’ –‘How’s
life?’ He would defy the odds
and respond optimistically,
‘Baruch Hashem!’ ‘Thank G-d.’
But the problem is that
this thinking is negative. It
asserts that the bad things we
have endured - anti-Semitism,
poverty, and the hardships
of Jewish survival are a vital
element in Jewish life. They
are the sharp prod by which
the Jew is kept Jewishly alive
- otherwise he would sink
into a state of fatal spiritual
atrophy and be lost. There is
merit in this view. But there
is also great danger. It implies
that Judaism has no positive
content and no significant
comment for our current life
and its issues. It is but a defence
against tragic outside forces.
This idea - usually expressed
implicitly rather than explicitly
– subtly dispirits the Jewish
heart which longs for a bright
positive attitude to life. It seeks
a plan of action; an optimistic
alternative to the spiritual
malaise all around. People
cry out for a vibrant, relevant
faith - for without that, life
becomes a void. And all that
this view says to them is, Es is
shver tzu zein a Yid. Yes, we are
avadim - slaves to the idea of
Jewish suffering and misery!
We must change our
attitudes toward Judaism.
Let us cease being slaves
to a defensive religion. Let
us proudly declare that our
survival is due to an exalted
Jewish ethos! We play into the
hands of our oppressors when
we make them the centre of
Jewish thought. Even if antiSemitism did not exist, the
world would still desperately
need the ideals, values, and
standards of the Torah!
So, let us refrain from
emphasising the antiquity of
Judaism. Rather, we should
proudly stress the modernity
of Jewish teaching. Judaism,
as a moderate, tolerant, and
profoundly grounded faith
has a vital word for our times,
for our problems, for the
dangers – moral and physical
- that threaten us today.
Shana Tovah to all our
military community – keep
safe and have a terrific year!
We have played the false friend
Slyly arming opposing factions
Thinking this was the way
From our comfort to hold sway
While TV news brought us the actions
Gird your loins for the battle
It is but a few miles away
It may even be closer
Home-grown like any friendly poser
Biding time for the black flag day
And even as I write these words
I hope I am mistaken
And all humans will see sense
So men of peace will soon commence
Ending war until violence is forsaken
David Bentata is a designer, poet and
former member of the Gibraltar Regiment.
MENORAH | 6
MENORAH | 7
The First World
War Centenary
The Jewish Military
Contribution
Rabbi Reuben Livingstone LLM CF, Jewish Chaplain to HM Forces
The centenary commemoration of the First World War
marks not only an important milestone in modern
history but also the tumultuous beginning of a century
that would change the face of Europe and the world.
F
rom a Jewish
perspective, the
Great War - the so
called ‘war to end
all wars’ - would also sow
the seeds of the Holocaust
and of the utter upheaval of
Jewish life on the Continent.
But there is another parallel
and more optimistic British
Jewish story - that of proud
service and sacrifice for King
and country; and of exemplary
commitment and citizenship.
The number of identified
Jews who served during WWI
based on British military
records was around 50,000. But
then, as now, it was not entirely
uncommon to be reticent in
declaring one’s Jewish identity.
Many Jews also changed
their names for fear of antiSemitism in the ranks. These
factors mean that the actual
number was likely higher.
Five Jewish soldiers won
the Victoria Cross awarded
for valour “in the face of the
enemy”. The courage shown
by Sergeant Issy Smith
(Shmulevitch), Captain
Robert Gee, Lieutenant
Frank Alexander de Pass,
Private Jack White (Weiss),
and Lance Corporal Leonard
Maurice Keysor still resonates
in the annals of Army
history. No less than fifty
Jewish soldiers received the
Distinguished Service Order.
In addition, Jews formed
their own unit, the Zion Mule
Corps, fighting at Gallipoli
and the Dardanelles in 1915.
The Zion Mule Corps and
the Jewish Battalion went
on to fight with distinction
in Palestine. In 1918, three
Jewish units, the 38th, 39th
and 40th battalions of the
Royal Fusiliers were part
of the Jewish Legion under
General Sir Edmund Allenby
in Palestine. These unique
regiments were disbanded
after the First World War.
Many Eastern European
Jews served in the Pioneer
Corps, working as labourers
on the infamous trenches. The
number of such foreign Jews in
the Labour Corps is estimated
(from the British Jewry Book
of Honour) at over 4,600,
including those who served in
the Middlesex Alien Companies
and the Egyptian Labour Corps.
Jews, in fact, have a very
long and distinguished tradition
of military service that goes
back to the Torah itself and
continues prominently in the
State of Israel. But even our
history in the British Forces
goes back over three hundred
years. A common European
anti-Semitic fabrication was to
accuse Jews of being unwilling
to join the military - but the
facts tell a different story.
During World War I, a census
instituted by the German
Military High Command known
as Judenzahlung (literally
‘Jew-count’) was carried out to
substantiate claims that Jews
were under-represented in
the German Military and thus
unpatriotic. Though suppressed
and never publicised, the results
roundly disproved the claims.
The Jewish authorities who
had conducted a parallel census
and found the statistics of
Jewish involvement to be very
high, were denied access to the
official archives. Remarkably,
thousands of men of Jewish
descent and hundreds of what
the Nazis called ‘full Jews’
served in the German military
with Hitler’s knowledge
and approval. Cambridge
University researcher Bryan
Rigg has traced the Jewish
ancestry of more than 1,200
of Hitler’s soldiers, including
two field marshals and fifteen
generals (two full generals,
eight lieutenant generals,
five major generals (“men
commanding up to 100,000
troops”). In approximately
20 cases, Jewish soldiers in
the Nazi army were awarded
Germany’s highest military
honour, the Knight’s Cross.
Professor Derek Penslar
of St Anne’s College, Oxford
University of Toronto, has
done extensive research into
Jewish military service in
the 19th century. He notes
that, based on archives, it
can be seen that in France,
Austro-Hungary, Italy, and
several other countries during
the Victorian era, between
4-18% of military officers were
Jewish; hugely more than
the proportion of Jews in the
wider populations. In Russia,
under different conditions,
the same situation prevailed.
This was partly because a
military career offered Jews
greater equality of opportunity
- especially in technical areas
such as engineering, artillery,
and logistics - where they
excelled. It also gave them
the means to shine as men
and put to rights the noxious
stereotype of the passive Jew.
In the late 19th century
the famous Rabbi Israel Meir
Kagan of Radin, known as
the Chafetz Chaim, wrote a
guidebook for Jewish soldiers
called Machane Yisrael. It is
highly significant that, despite
offering special leniencies for
serving personnel, nowhere
in the work does he say that
Jews should not serve or that
fighting is prohibited. On the
contrary, the author reaches
out to these men and attempts
to recognise their importance
Jews, in fact, have a very long
and distinguished tradition of
military service that goes back
to the Torah itself and continues
prominently in the State of
Israel. But even our history in
the British Forces goes back
over three hundred years.
and integrate them into the
traditional Jewish world.
Later, during WWII, out of
a Jewish population in Britain
estimated at only 400,000,
approximately 65,000 Jewish
men and women served in all
three services of the British
Armed Forces. As in WWI,
British Jews bore more than
their full share of the War
effort in operations around
the globe - on sea, land,
and in the air – and won
three Victoria Crosses. They
continued to do so in later
conflicts including Malaya,
Kenya, Korea, Northern
Ireland, the Falklands,
Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the same way, American
Jews served in disproportion
to their numbers: nearly
250,000 in WWI and well
over 400,000 in WWII. The
very same phenomenon was
true in the Soviet Red Army.
Remarkably, nearly 200,000
Polish Jews fought against
Nazi Germany in the ranks of
the Polish Armies - on Polish
soil and in exile. Despite this
tremendous contribution to
the war effort, the official
Polish historical bibliography
of WWII shamefully
ignores this contribution
[particularly as there were
nearly 5,000 Jewish officers].
Jewish military chaplaincy
in the British Armed Forces
under the authority of the Chief
Rabbi, has been the sustaining
spiritual force behind Jewish
service for nearly 120 years.
It’s unique history was very
much forged out of the
experience of the First World
Continued overleaf
© KenDrysdale / shutterstock
JEWISH CHAPLAINS
SERVING IN ARMY
CHAPLAINS’ DEPARTMENT
1914-1918
1. Rev Michael Adler,
Senior Jewish Chaplain
[1909], Deployed January
1915 to France
2. Rev. A Barnett - 30
March 1916 - France
MENORAH | 8
3. Rev. I Brodie - 8
January 1918 - France
4. Rev. L Falk - 25 January
1918 - Palestine
5. Rev. I Frankenthal
- 11 June 1916
6. Rev. J Geffen - 21
August 1917 - France
7. Rev. M Gallop - 26 March
1917 – Salonika, Greece
8. Rev. N Goldstone - 4
February 1918
9. Rev. D Hirsch - 14
August 1917 - France
10. Rev. W Levin - 27 October
1918 - Italy, Egypt, Palestine
11. Rev. N. Levine - 9
July 1918 - France
12. Rev. E Levy - June
1917 France
13. Rev. B Lieberman -16
January 1917 France
14. Rev. S Lipson - 22
January 1915
15. Rev. L Morris - 22
January 1915 - France,Italy
16. Rev. H Price - 23
October 1917 - France
17. Rev. V Simmons - 24
August 1915 - France
MENORAH | 9
War when Jewish Chaplains
first formed part of the British
Army on active service.
Jews were officially
recognised in the British
Armed Forces as a distinct
religious body from 1889. The
Visitation Committee of the
United Synagogue had been
responsible for the religious
and spiritual welfare of Jews
in public institutions. It
decided to extend the scope
of its activities to serving
members of the Forces and
applied to the War Office
for the formal appointment
of a Jewish Chaplain. This
request was granted in 1892
and the Rev Francis L. Cohen,
Minister of the Borough
Synagogue in London, was
appointed as the first Jewish
Chaplain to HM Forces.
In 1897 Rev Cohen obtained
the sanction of the British
Admiralty and the War Office
for a special annual service for
Jewish men in the Forces. Every
year the event was attended by
important representatives of
the Fighting Services, including
the Chaplain General and
senior members of the Army
Chaplains Department. The
Honorary Officers of the United
Synagogue also attended.
In those days the order for
this parade was “Dress as for
Church Parade”, i.e. Helmet and
Side-Arms. Every Unit turned
out in “Full Dress” filling the
Synagogue with varied coloured
uniforms of all types, with all
kinds of head-dress including
bearskins, busbies, shakos,
and helmets. The officers were
accommodated in front of the
Ark, and the rank and file in
the main ground floor of the
building. The public, which
included friends and family
of those present, occupied
the gallery. For all civilians
admission was by ticket only.
The whole parade would form
up under the supervision of a
prominent senior officer and,
headed by a Regimental Band,
would march ceremoniously
into synagogue. Personnel
included representatives of the
Royal Navy, Royal Marines,
Army, Militia, Army Cadets,
Volunteers, Yeomanry, British
Red Cross and St. John
Ambulance Detachments;
as well as veterans of all the
campaigns in India, Egypt,
Africa and Canada. The
Metropolitan Police were
represented. Encouraged by the
Honorary Officers of the United
Synagogue this Parade became
an annual event and, for some
years, was commanded by
Colonel David de Lara Cohen,
V.D. The adjutant was one
of his regimental officers,
Major Gordon Kennard, and
the R.S.M. was SergeantInstructor J. H. Levy of the
Scots Guards (said, at one time,
to have ‘the loudest word of
command in the Brigade of
Guards’). The latter becoming
Lieutenant Colonel, with
D.S.O. and O.B.E. - having
been mentioned in despatches
seven times. This august event
was the precursor to what has
become the annual Association
of Jewish Ex-Servicemen
Parade at the Cenotaph.
When Rev Cohen was
called to become Chief
Rabbi of Sydney, Australia
in 1904, he was succeeded
by a remarkable man - Rev
Michael Adler, Minister of the
Hammersmith Synagogue.
After the War Rev Arthur
Barnett CF, wrote of
Michael Adler:
At the outbreak of the first World War he was the only Jewish
Chaplain to have held His Majesty’s Commission in the Army.
He was faced now with the tremendous task of organising an
adequate Jewish Chaplaincy for work in the field as well as at
home. The peculiar problems of the Jewish Serviceman scattered
in almost every army unit were well-nigh insurmountable. In
addition, the War Office was at a loss to know what to do with
a Jewish Chaplain in the field and refused to allow Adler to go
overseas. It was only his persistence and tenacity which finally
overcame the objection, and in January 1915, for the first
time in the history of the British Army, a Jewish Chaplain was
ministering to Jewish troops in the field...It is not possible here
to continue the story of how he built up the Jewish Chaplaincy
during the war. Suffice it to say that it was a creatio ex nihilo.
With no precedent to guide him, with nothing but his own
forcefulness of purpose and growing experience, he organised the
department with such efficiency that before the war was over he
had received promotion in rank, a twofold mention-in-dispatches
and the signal honour of the D.S.O. He was indefatigable in his
energies, infectious in his enthusiasm, dynamic in his influence on
his colleagues, and impressive in his devotion to the Jewish
soldier’s well-being. Many thousands of Jews will remember him
with gratitude and honour. During those tragic years he made
Jewish history...
E
ventually, there
were 17 uniformed
Jewish Chaplains
who served in the
Army Chaplains’ department
between 1914 and 1918 in all
theatres of war. By the Second
World War, there were at least
38 - including LieutenantColonel Israel Brodie who would
later become Chief Rabbi.
One hundred years on, we
are all connected to the First
World War, either through our
own family history, the heritage
of our local communities - or
because of its long-term impact
on society and the world we
live in today. From 2014 to
2018, across the world, nations,
communities and individuals
of all ages will come together
to mark, commemorate and
remember the lives of those
who lived, fought, and died
in the Great War. The Jewish
community will play its full part
in the proud knowledge that it
made a significant contribution.
That selfless commitment
continues unto this very day
through those numbers of Jews,
current members of The Armed
Forces Jewish Community, that
serve with devotion and sacrifice
in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
Jewish Chaplains World War II
11. Rev. E M Davis
1. Rev. S Amias
12. Rev. L I Edgar
2. Rev. A Berman
13. Rev. M Elton
3. Rev. M Berman
14. Rev. B Epstein
4. Rev. C M Bloch
15 .Rev. I N Fabricant
5. Rev. I Brodie
16. Rev. J Gill (Lifschitz)
6. Rev. S Brown
17. Rev. M Gollop
7. Rev. B M Casper
18. Rev. B Greenberg
8. Rev. T Chait
19. Rev. E T Hamburger
9. Rev. B Cherrick
20. Rev. L H Hardman
10. Rev. P Cohen
21. Rev. B Hooker
22. Rev. S Hooker
23. Rev. S Isaacs
24. Rev. J Israelstam
25. Rev. M A Jaffe
26. Rev. I Levy
27. Rev. M A Lew
28. Rev. B Lucki
29. Rev. S Margulies
30. Rev. A A W Miller
31. Rev. W Morein
[Died on Active Duty]
32. Rev. A D S Pimontel
33. Rev. H J Rabonwitz
34. Rev I Rapaport
35. Rev. E E Urbach
36. Rev. M Wagner
37. Rev. J Weintrobe
38. Rev. H Bornstein
[Died on Active Duty]
Jews were officially recognised in the British
Armed Forces as a distinct religious body from
1889. The Visitation Committee of the United
Synagogue had been responsible for the religious
and spiritual welfare of Jews in public institutions.
MENORAH | 10
MENORAH | 11
BRITISH JEWRY IN
THE GREAT WAR
Elkan D Levy
The Board of Deputies met for its regular meeting
on 19 July 1914 and passed a resolution “to send an
address of sympathy to the Emperor of Austria on the
assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.”
Lord Chief Justice of England,
Rufus Isaacs was the first
Jew to hold the position.
Below them was the mass
of middle-class Jews, mostly
professional and mercantile,
who formed a large part of the
organised community although
not yet in its leadership.
First or second generation
English born, and increasingly
anglicised, they formed
the backbone of the United
Synagogue and the franchise
of the Board of Deputies.
Finally there were the Jews
The Jewish population of Great
Britain at this time was about
350,000 of whom about three
fifths lived in London. Provincial
Jewry was divided into a mass of
small communities with the great
industrial towns – Manchester,
Leeds, Birmingham and
Glasgow – as the main centres.
© Willequet Manuel, Sandra Cunningham / shutterstock
F
ew people at that
meeting thought
that the Sarajevo
killing would be
any different from the various
political assassinations
that had occurred in
Europe. Within three weeks
war had broken out.
The Jewish population
of Great Britain at this time
was about 350,000 of whom
about three fifths lived in
London. Provincial Jewry was
divided into a mass of small
communities with the great
industrial towns – Manchester,
Leeds, Birmingham and
Glasgow – as the main
centres. There were also small
communities in the mining
areas of South Wales and
the mining and shipbuilding
towns of the North East.
The community was still
ruled by a number of related
families, known to historians
as the Cousinhood. The
first Lord Rothschild still
presided over New Court with
his brothers and ruled the
community as a benevolent
though much feared despot.
Representatives of this group
were making their way in
English life; Herbert Samuel
was in the Liberal cabinet
formed by Asquith at the
beginning of the war and his
cousin Edwin Montagu joined
him there soon after. The
of London’s East End and
the other ghettos of Britain.
The immigrants formed
an almost self-contained
artisan community of their
own. Religiously they were
more positively orthodox
than the United Synagogue
but maintained a grudging
admiration and respect for
the institutions of AngloJewry. The more assimilated
Jews in return had made
the cause of the immigrants
their own and devoted their
talents and energies towards
the Anglicisation of the East
End and the amelioration of
the conditions of the ghetto.
Major institutions including
the Chief Rabbinate, the
United Synagogue, the Board
of Deputies and the Board
of Guardians all tended to
keep the community together
despite the latent fissiparous
tendencies of Jewish
organisational life. A most
powerful common denominator
was the Jewish Chronicle,
by then a very Zionist
paper. Widely read in upper
class Jewish homes it also
engendered queues of readers in
the Whitechapel Public Library.
So highly was it regarded that
a ghetto teacher, attempting to
instil the glorious moments of
English naval history into his
small pupils asked how Nelson
gave his famous message
at Trafalgar. Back came the
answer “Please Sir he put it
in the Jewish Chronicle!”
Sentiment in the community
was firmly against Britain’s
entry into the war, and
especially against Britain’s
alliance with Russia, the arch
persecutor of the Jews at that
time. The Jewish Chronicle’s
first editorial after the outbreak
of war hurriedly reversed its
policy and spoke of “the futility
of those who cry peace, peace,
when there is no peace.”
One of the immediate
problems which faced the
community was the nationality
of the large number of
immigrants. Passports were
rarely carried or held and
often the immigrant Jew had
no evidence of citizenship.
Britain was embarked on
her first continental war in a
century and foreigners were
immediately suspected of being
enemy. German and Austrian
citizens were interned, mainly
in the Isle of Man, as were
Turkish nationals. There was
at one time a separate Jewish
internment camp, and two
of those who died there still
repose in a Manx churchyard.
By the beginning of 1915
anti-foreign attitudes had
considerably diminished only to
be revived after the torpedoing
of the Lusitania on 7th May.
The Board of Deputies
declined to get involved in
exempting Jewish enemy
aliens from internment
or repatriation because it
regarded the whole question
as not being specifically
Jewish, and attempted to
pass its responsibilities onto
one of the friendly societies.
The Jewish Chronicle, and
its correspondence columns,
attacked this attitude with
great vigour, describing
the board’s attitudes as
“ridiculously Gilbertian”
and the provincial councils
stepped in vigorously where
the Board had failed to act.
The outbreak of war was
seen by the Jewish Chronicle,
undoubtedly reflecting the
predominant sentiment of
the community, as a chance
for Anglo-Jewry to repay
England for her kindness and
hospitality. “England has been
all she could be to Jews, Jews
will be all they can to England”
was the slogan in their opening
wartime editorial. This slogan
was painted on a large sign
board outside the JC offices in
Finsbury Square and remained
there throughout the war. At
Whitechapel recruiting station
on Wednesday 5th August the
great crowd included over 500
young Jews and the community
encouraged enlistment. Chief
Rabbi Hertz issued a recruiting
message “Israel expects every
son of Israel to do his duty” and
synagogues throughout the
land held recruiting meetings.
There was a popular belief
that Jews did not make good
soldiers, which in due course
led Chief Rabbi Hertz to pay
an official visit to the Western
front. Sir John French,
the commander-in-chief,
in a despatch gratifyingly
mentioned “the large Jewish
community now serving
with the Army in the field”.
At this stage about 40% of
Jewish recruits were rejected
on health grounds, although
towards the end of the war
Col JH Patterson, commanding
38th Battalion Royal Fusiliers,
The Judeans.
standards were lowered.
The war produced an
unusually virulent strain
of anti-foreign feeling. The
Times throughout the war
maintained a policy of using
the terms “German” and “Jew”
synonymously. Many leading
figures in English life came
under suspicion. Sir Alfred
Mond received an official call
at his London home asking
why he kept carrier pigeons
in his garden. They were Hyde
Park pigeons which gathered
there because they were fed.
The Sephardi community,
in an excess of patriotic
Englishness, developed a dislike
of Ashkenazi Jews because
they were German, and even
considered withholding funds
from the Judith Montefiore
college at Ramsgate in case
any of those studying were
enemy aliens. The United
Synagogue, being full of many
Ashkenazim of fairly recent
Continued overleaf
MENORAH | 12
MENORAH | 13
immigration avoided antiGerman hysteria, although
one of its ministers questioned
the fact that it maintained
the “German-Polish ritual”.
Those with German names
often considered a change;
the Minister of the Liverpool
Old Hebrew Congregation in
Princes Road abandoned his
surname of Friedberg in favour
of Frampton, a Dorset village.
Economically the beginning
of the war brought hardship
among immigrant workers.
Food prices rose rapidly,
and the JC complained that
while the price of the bagel
remained stationary “its
circumference has become
suspiciously less”. However
the expansion of the Armed
Forces meant huge clothing
contracts of which the East
End and other immigrant areas
received a fair share. One little
pageboy at a ghetto wedding
arrived in an officer’s uniform,
complete to the smallest
detail, which his father had
no doubt fashioned from
khaki clippings! Manchester
Jewry supplied most of the
army’s ground sheets and the
khaki boom generally brought
prosperity to the tailoring
and dressmaking trades.
The Board of Guardians
found its support much in
demand, but generally helped
to alleviate the most severe
poverty without receiving
help either from government
or national funds. Most
charities however found their
income falling, the demand
for their assistance rising,
and the position made worse
MENORAH | 14
by a shortage of voluntary
workers. Some 3500 Belgian
Jewish refugees came to
Britain at the beginning of
the war, many of whom had
been very prosperous but
now needed assistance.
Most Synagogue bodies
waived contributions from
men on active service while
the Federation of Synagogues
relieved all those on active
service of their subscriptions
to the Burial Society while
the nation, conscious of its
huge losses in the incredible
slaughter of the Western front
and the general failure of
such slaughter to produce any
positive reactions, looked for
fresh sources of manpower.
Almost the only unwounded
young men in London by
then were the young Jews of
Whitechapel who were not
liable for English conscription
and, as Herbert Samuel told
the House of Commons, there
Jewish Officers and men, Hammersmith in training November 1914
still receiving the benefits!
The senior Jewish chaplain,
the Rev Michael Adler, was in
civilian life the Minister of the
Central Synagogue in Great
Portland Street. In January
1915 he went to France and
a number of Anglo Jewish
ministers served as chaplains
in the field. In 1916 Rabbi
A I Kook, formerly Chief
Rabbi of Jaffa, who had been
stranded in Switzerland by the
outbreak of war became the
Rav of the Machzike Hadass
Synagogue in Brick Lane.
By the summer of 1916
was a distinct feeling that
allied subjects of military age
“ought either to serve in the
army of the country of their
birth or in the army of the
country of their adoption.”
The feeling was so strong
that anti-Jewish riots broke
out in the summer of 1917.
These lasted three days in
Leeds in June, and there were
a further two days in Bethnal
Green in September. Senior
figures within Anglo-Jewry
hoped that if the law was
changed to allow friendly
aliens to volunteer for the
British forces the ghetto
would volunteer before it was
conscripted. A small number
of Jews returned to Russia
to fight with Kerensky’s
government, but the majority
refused, no doubt influenced
by the heavy casualty figures
whose existence could no
longer be denied. Fearful
of further anti-Jewish
riots, Samuel persuaded
the government to bring in
compulsory conscription
for non-British nationals
in the summer of 1917.
Before the outbreak of the
war the immigrant populations
which vastly outnumbered the
indigenous and acculturated
Jews had relied upon them
to represent their views and
their requirements to wider
society whose language
they did not speak and
whose attitudes they did not
comprehend. By the summer
of 1916 all had changed.
Before the war most of the
acculturated members of the
community had sent their
sons to public school. With the
rapid expansion of the army
at the outbreak of war and
the need for junior officers,
public schoolboys received an
automatic commission and
subsequently the junior officers
bore the brunt of casualties.
By the summer of 1916 many
of the younger members of
the community who had
devoted time and effort to
the immigrants were dead.
At the same time
the increase in wartime
regulations, and the close
relationship between
the immigrants and the
government on matters such
as clothing contracts gave the
ghetto increasing confidence
in its dealings with the
outside non-Jewish world.
Suddenly they realised that
they could survive without
the Jews of the West End.
In many ways the year
of 1917 was viewed by the
community as an annus
mirabilis. Since the early days
of the war it had been clear to
the British government that an
attack on the Ottoman Empire
would both take pressure off
the Western front and bring
many other benefits to the
war effort. Two attempts to
defeat the Turkish armies at
the first and second battles of
Gaza in April 1917 had failed
miserably, and Prime Minister
Lloyd George felt that a muchneeded military success would
come in the Middle East far
sooner than in France. One of
his most successful generals
was Allenby and in June 1917
he was sent to the Middle East.
Allenby neither
underestimated the Turks
nor dismissed the problems
of the theatre of war. Having
made careful preparations, and
having received an instruction
from the Prime Minister to
“give Jerusalem to the British
people as a Christmas present”
Allenby attacked at the end of
October and on 9 December
Jerusalem surrendered. This
was the first major success of
British arms in the whole war.
Relations between the
Jewish community and the
government particularly in
respect of Jewry in foreign
countries had been handled
since 1878 by the Conjoint
Foreign Committee a joint
organisation of the Board
of Deputies and the Anglo
Jewish Association. The
presidents of the two bodies,
D L Alexander KC and Claude
G Montefiore were assisted by
supporters within upperclass Jewry on the one hand,
and the acculturated Jewish
community which feared that
the Zionism would destroy
its hard-won standing and
privileges in English society
on the other. Matters came
to a head in May 1917 when
the president of the Board of
Before the war most of the
acculturated members of the
community had sent their sons
to public school. With the rapid
expansion of the army at the
outbreak of war and the need for
junior officers, public schoolboys
received an automatic commission
and subsequently the junior officers
bore the brunt of casualties.
Lucien Wolf secretary of the
committee, considered by the
Foreign Office as spokesman
of the Jews. All three shared
an inability to understand or
appreciate the immigrant or
Jewish nationalist viewpoint.
By the early summer of
1917 the government was
considering a declaration
in support of Zionist aims.
On this the community was
split between the immigrants
and their few Zionist
Deputies and the president of
the Anglo Jewish Association
wrote a letter to The Times
in an attempt to strangle the
declaration before its birth.
With great courage Chief
Rabbi Hertz wrote a letter
in strong refutation and the
president of the Board of
Deputies was forced to resign.
On 2 November 1917 the
Balfour Declaration was
duly issued to wild rejoicing
among the pro-Zionist
sections of the community.
At the same time the
community was grappling with
the question of a specifically
Jewish military unit. Attempts
to form such a unit had been
resisted both by the War Office
and by the community itself,
but the formation of the Zion
Mule Corps, and its record
at Gallipoli had somewhat
weakened the opposition.
There was real concern in the
community at how such a
unit might behave under fire;
there had after all been no
Jewish military units since the
Maccabees. It was therefore
agreed that they would become
the 38th Royal Fusiliers,
despite which the unit was
always known as “the Judeans”.
Subsequently the 39th was
raised in Palestine and the
40th in New York. All three
battalions fought creditably
and are commemorated on
the Royal Fusiliers Memorial
in Holborn, the only war
memorial in the UK which
contains the word “Jewish”.
The war dragged on to its
miserable end in November
1918. The vast social changes
which it had brought within
British society were reflected
in the Jewish community.
Old certainties had gone,
the old leaders were weary,
many of the younger men
who would be expected to
take their place were dead,
the East End was no longer
subservient to the West End
and British Jewry along with
its non-Jewish counterparts
faced with uncertainty the
problems of the interwar years.
MENORAH | 15
Captain
Robert Gee
VC MC MP
THE FIVE
JEWISH VCs
of WWI
Leonard
Maurice
Keysor VC
Jack
White VC
was born Jacob
Weiss in Leeds,
Yorkshire, on
23 December
1896 into a
Jewish family.
After finishing his education,
he joined the family business,
a waterproofing company.
When the First World War
broke out, he returned home
from a business trip and
volunteered for active service
with the King’s Own Royal
(18 September 1890
– 11 September
1940) was a
British-Australian
recipient of the Victoria Cross.
In recognition of his VC, he was
also awarded the French Croix
de Guerre and Russian Cross
of St. George (4th class) by the
respective governments.
Born Ishroulch Shmeilowitz in
Egypt, Smith travelled to Britain
as a child stowaway and first
remained with the battalion
through the Gallipoli campaign.
Eventually, he and his unit were
ordered to join the Tigris Corps,
attempting to relieve the Siege of
Kut. After the failure of the relief
effort, White’s unit participated
in the counter-offensive in 1917.
It was during the 13th Division’s
crossing of the Diyala
River that he earned the
Victoria Cross. During
an attempt to cross a river he
saw the two Pontoons ahead of
him come under heavy
machine-
Regiment (Lancaster). Originally
assigned to a battalion destined
for France, he missed the
battalion’s deployment while
home on compassionate leave to
attend the death of his father.
Instead, he was transferred
to the 6th King’s Own Royal
Regiment (Lancaster).
The 6th King’s Own
Royal Regiment
(Lancaster) was attached to
the 13th (Western)
Division.
Originally ordered
to Gallipoli, he
volunteered
to serve in the
British Army
in 1904. As
a sergeant
in the 1st
Battalion, The
Manchester Regiment, Smith
was engaged in the Second
Battle of Ypres. On 26 April
1915, Smith, on his own
initiative, recovered wounded
soldiers while exposed to
sustained fire and attended to
them “with the greatest devotion
to duty regardless of personal
risk”. His conduct secured a
recommendation for the Victoria
Cross, which was awarded to
Smith in August 1915.
Frank
Alexander
de Pass VC
(April 26,
1887 November
25, 1914) was
an English
recipient
of the Victoria Cross, the
highest and most prestigious
award for gallantry in the
face of the enemy that can
be awarded to British and
Commonwealth forces. He
was the first person of the
Jewish faith and the first
Indian Army officer to receive
the VC during World War I.
He was 27 years old,
and a Lieutenant in the
34th Prince Albert Victor’s
Own Poona Horse, and was
awarded the Victoria Cross for
his actions on 24 November
1914 near Festubert, France.
He was killed in battle the
next day, 25 November.
Lieutenant de Pass entered
a German sap and destroyed
a traverse in the face of the
enemy’s bombs. Subsequently
he rescued, under heavy fire, a
wounded man who was lying
exposed to enemy bullets in
the open. Lieutenant de Pass
lost his life in a second attempt
to capture the sap which
had been reoccupied by the
enemy. His Victoria Cross is
displayed at the National Army
Museum in Chelsea, London.
gun fire, with
disastrous results.
When his own Pontoon had
reached midstream, with every
man except himself either
dead or wounded, finding that
he was unable to control the
Pontoon, Pte. White promptly
tied a telephone wire to the
Pontoon, jumped overboard,
and towed it to the shore,
thereby saving an officer’s
life and bringing to land the
rifles and equipment of the
other men in the boat, who
were either dead or dying.
© V.J.Matthew / shutterstock. Wikimedia
(3 November
1885 – 12
October
1951). Born in England, Keysor
emigrated to Australia shortly
before the outbreak of the First
World War. He enlisted in the
First Australian Imperial Force
in August 1914 and served in
Egypt before landing at Gallipoli,
Turkey at the beginning of the
campaign. On 7 August 1915
at Lone Pine, while serving as
an acting lance-corporal, 29
year-old Keysor performed an
act of bravery for which he was
awarded the Victoria Cross.
Later in the war he took part in
the fighting in France, serving
in the trenches along the
Western Front. He would later
achieve the rank of lieutenant
before being discharged from
the army on medical grounds
at the end of the war.
(7 May 1876
– 2 August
1960) Born in
Leicester, he
was 41 years
old, and a temporary captain
in the 2nd Battalion, The
Royal Fusiliers, when he was
awarded the Victoria Cross for
his actions on 30 November
1917 at Masnières and Les
Rues Vertes, France:
An attack by the
enemy captured
brigade
Issy Smith VC
headquarters
and ammunition
dump. Captain
Gee, finding
himself a prisoner,
managed to escape
and organised
a party of the
brigade staff
with which he attacked the
enemy, closely followed by
two companies of infantry.
He cleared the locality and
established a defensive flank,
then finding an enemy machinegun still in action, with a
revolver in each hand he went
forward and captured the gun,
killing eight of the crew. He
was wounded, but would not
have his wound dressed until
the defence was organised.
MENORAH | 16
MENORAH | 17
You could be
in the Algarve,
relaxing in the sun...
A SUBBIE
WITH
STYLE
Two weeks in the life of Lt John Cvancara
as a NATO Delegation Liaison Officer.
A
n Email from my
Training Major
started the ball
rolling. “Do you
speak any languages? Would
you like to be a DLO?” As usual,
I said yes, then decided to have
a look and see what a DLO is.
Very difficult to nail it down,
and had to wait until the admin
order came through. The role
was to be a Liaison Officer
for a Delagation at the NATO
Summit. Still as clear as mud.
The first week was held in
Lancaster House, just across
the road from The Boss.
Somehow the FCO managed
to cram an hour’s work into
four days, but it did give
ample opportunity to do the
tourist bit going to work.
The second week was down
in sunny Cardiff. Consisted
of collection passes, recce
of the Celtic Manor Resort
to orientate ourselves, and
liaising with the Delegation
Foreign office teams.
I was embedded with
the German team, and was
responsible for the Defence
Minister, Ursula von der
Leyen, and her MA, Colonel
Heico Hubner. My role was
to guide, locate, troubleshoot
and generally be a ‘there for
Situated on the top floor of a three storey block the apartment has its
own residents’ swimming pool. It has the advantage of being away
from the bustle of the town centre but within walking distance (10
minutes to the marina and another 5 to the town centre).
It has a twin bedroom, open plan kitchen and lounge. The kitchen has a 4-ring hob, oven,
microwave, toaster, fridge freezer and washing machine. There is a family sized bathroom. The
lounge has a sofa (which converts into two more single beds) and a table to seat four. A TV,
DVD ,CD player and WiFi are also available. Both the lounge and bedroom have patio doors
which open onto the balcony offering views over the swimming pool and across Lagos.
There is ample car parking space in front of the building.
www.algarveestatemanagement.co.uk
apt meia
Prices:
To book accommodation please contact Judith Hall on 01536 711884
Apartments can also be booked very competitively at [email protected]
© Jiri Flogel / shutterstock
Nov to Mar £190
Apr & Oct £255
May & Sept £290
June £330
July & Aug £410
all’ for the team. Seemed like
it might be a dogsbody job at
first, but turned out to be a
definite highlight in my military
career. Two of the busiest days
of my life. Booking rooms for
meetings, sorting out passes,
arranging vehicles, and generally
ensuring that the team were
in the right place, at the right
time, with the right people.
The German delegation were a
John’s staff car... getting
ideas above his station.
and dinners, but a constant line
of meetings, press conferences,
and eating on the move. Angela
Merkel was a very down to earth
person, with no airs and graces,
Obama was a genuine character.
Tiring, very warm in SD
The DLO and the
German delegation
super bunch, all very friendly and
chatty, and a perfect example
of a classless team. Rubbing
shoulders with the leaders of
the world, getting an insight
into how the powers that be run
things. I came to realise that
summits are not all shiny lights
and medals, and my feet were
aching on Friday evening, but an
opportunity that I’d take again
and again. Highlight of the two
weeks? If you’ve never been in a
convoy with 12 police outriders
stopping everything for you to
fly through, you haven’t lived.
If you haven’t had a chauffeur
driven BMW 7 Series, with a
personal protection officer in
the front, while you lounge in
the back, you’ve missed out.
And all those so called
stars who say they get bored
of people waving and taking
pictures of them, swap with me,
because it’s great. But my real
highlight was down at Cardiff
docks. (No Martin, not that
type of highlight!) The area
was fenced off, with security
and police everywhere. A lady
from outside the fence asked if
it would be ok for her to take a
picture of me. It came out badly,
so I coerced the security team
to let me outside the cordon.
Ten minutes later, and one very
happy chat, and lots of pictures
were taken with the family.
There followed, a line of families
asking if they could have there
picture taken with me. All in a
days work for some people, but
it was a definite “Andy Warhol
15 minute moment “ for me.
Note: John has failed to
say that he is now the proud
owner of the NATO mountain
of freebies ranging from mugs,
pens and pencils, bottleopeners and note pads to
miniature jars of jam! Well
done John and equally well
done on your appointment
as secretary of Army
Reserves Basketball (Ed).
The German delegation were a
super bunch, all very friendly
and chatty, and a perfect
example of a classless team.
MENORAH | 19
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MENORAH | 20
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In Focus
Around the camps
© Cpl Jamie Peters
Capt Andy Holsgrove shows the Silver Torah
breastplate presented to Manchester’s
United Synagogue (Meade Hill Shul) in
1917 in memory of Cpl Laurence Boodsman
of the Manchester Regiment. Cpl
Boodsman was killed in action at Gallipoli
99 years ago. The breastplate is always
used on Armed Forces Shabbat and the
Shabbat closest to Remembrance Day.
Jewish members of Middlesex & North West London Army Cadet
Force on annual camp are pictured during a Havdala ceremony in the
field, saying farewell to the Sabbath and the start of a new week.
Padre Simon Taylor found a small Jewish Community
at Middlesex an NW London ACF’s Annual Camp.
THANK YOU
STUART
AND
SANDRA
Welcome home
to Padre Reuben
Livingstone.
Just in time
for the High
holydays after a
month at BATUS
with 1 YORKS.
A
Euan
moves
on
I
t’s always
good to
hear from
Euan
Sandison.
Since leaving
the Army the
former REME and Mercian
Regiment captain has settled
into a new career in the oil
industry working out of Baku
and announced his marriage to
Marina Reizman in Scotland.
The happy couple have bought
an apartment in Modiin Israel
where a Chuppah will be held
shortly. And he’s grown a beard!
I know the whole community
wishes them well for the future
and a hearty mazel tov. Not
sure about the beard though.
MENORAH | 22
Army medical officer, Capt Laurence Baum, a member of the Armed
Forces Jewish Community treats an elderly lady in Kenya
The Army and the RAF were represented by Col Martin Newman DL,
Wg Cdr Roy Catterall DL and Capt Andy Holsgrove of the Duke of Lancaster’s
Regiment at the stone setting of WWI and WWII veteran Jacob Silverberg
(see full article in this magazine). The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment is now
the custodian of two Jewish VCs, Sgt Issy Smith and Pte Jack White.
Padre Simon looks for
potential recruits
W
hen Army
Reserves from
The London
Regiment
(Princess of Wales Royal
Regiment) of Edgware were
recruiting in Canons Park
in a predominantly Jewish
area, they were quick to take
up the offer of support from
Padre Simon Taylor, chaplain
to Middlesex and North West
London Army Cadet Force.
‘There was a lot of interest
from the community and I
think it was helpful for the
unit to have someone on hand
who knew and understood
them. What better than a
Rabbi in uniform?” he said.
big thank you to
Chief Engineer
Stuart and
Sandra Rose who
always seem to be walking,
swimming or cycling for some
worthy cause or other.
Our Sefer Torah appeal is
about £250 better off thanks to
them participating in a gruelling
bicycle ride around Paris. Sandra
said: “This was the hardest
challenge we’ve undertaken
so far. This appeal was
important to us and our Armed
Forces Jewish Community.
We did it. So go to the Smart
Giving website and give.”
Sweet tooth? Gibraltar
Cadet's GCSE
hen the good news
is that that sticky
success
T
toffee pudding
is being retained
in the Kosher operational
ration packs. Note the letter
K. That’s you’re assurance
that it’s a kosher ration
M
azeltov to
Cadet Samuel
Marrache of the
Gibraltar Cadet
Force. Samuel, who passed out as
top cadet of last
year’s intake has
now achieved
nine A* passes in
this year’s GCSE
examinations.
Well done.
Padre Simon Taylor represented the Armed Forces Jewish Community
when he attended and participated in the AJEX annual Remembrance
Service at Willesden Cemetery. He is pictured with Rev Alan Greenblat.
MENORAH | 23
By Flight Lieutenant Justin Salmon RAF
I
spent a long time
thinking how best
to relate my recent
deployment to
Afghanistan – it seemed such
a huge subject to try and tackle
in an article, and there were
inevitable sensitivities too. I
decided a series of vignettes
might work best. I was
deployed to Afghanistan for
my second and undoubtedly
final operational tour from 14
September 2013 to 29 March
2014, doing an information
operations role embedded with a
US team – broadly, information
operations involve influencing
target audience behaviour
without using traditional
kinetic means (that is, blowing
The Suicide
Car Bomb
One morning I happened
to be at my desk,
checking Facebook
of all things, when
suddenly there
was a colossal boom,
and the somewhat
flimsy (and it
turns out quite
exposed) 2-storey
building I was in
certainly reinforced why the
safe minimum distance from a
car bomb is taught as 400m (not
200m)! Annoyingly I’ve still got
a feeling of over-pressure in my
left ear from the explosion, for
which the initial prescription
from the US med centre was the
phlegm-releasing expectorant
Mucinex, somewhat randomly.
It’s still not right. However,
to my surprise, application of
anti-biotic ear spray recently
has helped enormously –
evidently a lengthy infection
was caused by dust being forced
into the ear by the blast.
First time going
outside the
wire on an op
We were attached to a US
Army unit to support a major
clearance operation – quite a
rare event by that stage of the
campaign. This would be a first
for me and my two colleagues.
We were up very early that
morning, while it was still
dark and the mess hall was
still closed – for breakfast I
had the first of what would be
many, many Clif bars over the
next few days… The Forward
Operating Base (FOB) was
blacked out at night and no
white light was allowed, so
it was extremely dark as we
gathered our kit and went to
meet our point of contact. There
was a lot of waiting around.
We felt a bit self-conscious as
outsiders. Finally someone
told us to go out to where all
the vehicles were formed up
and being prepared, and told
to go find the Sergeant First
Class we would be riding with.
The sun was now coming up,
and all around US soldiers
prepped their Stryker vehicles,
engineer vehicles and so on.
Engines were running in the
half-light, troops now shuttling
to the mess hall to get takeout breakfasts. I took a final
opportunity for a nervous toilet
break. We had our “warry”
photos taken in front of our
vehicle, feeling a little selfconscious about it, hoping not
to give too much an impression
of “newbies” to the platoon
we would be riding with. As
we got closer to the departure
time, there was more standing
around and waiting, chatting.
Everyone was very interested in
the rifle I had, it being a novelty
among all the M4s. The verdict
was that it was quite heavy!
We had another brief and then
finally we were told to mount
up. We put our protective gear
on, including our “combat
nappies” (or my Tier 2 groin
protection), climbed up the
ramp and strapped in. The
ramp closed – quite an ominous
experience – and suddenly the
only view I had of the outside
world was through the gunner’s
screen. The noise of the engines
increased and we lurched
forward, bit by bit, heading
for the gate of the FOB. I was
both nervous and excited.
© msiudmak, Alexander Smulskiy / shutterstock
Afghanistan
for the final
time...
probably
things up). Rather nicely, I was
temporarily promoted as an
acting Squadron Leader for the
duration of the tour, and came
back with a US Meritorious
Service Medal awarded for
my efforts. So here goes…
felt like it flew to pieces, bits
of the ceiling crashing down,
fittings like air conditioning
units on the walls flying off,
things knocked over all over
the place, and a choking cloud
of dust. Then there felt like a
moment’s stillness, enough for
me to announce a surprised
“F- me” to my colleagues,
before someone shouted to
take cover and the fire alarm
started going (presumably from
all the dust in the air). It felt
like the building had been hit
by a rocket, but we gradually
started finding out that it was
a suicide car bomb which had
rammed into the back of an
ISAF convoy entering the gate
to camp – the detonation was
about 200m away (sounds far,
but it wasn’t), and could be
clearly seen through our fire
exit, with direct line of sight
over all the blast walls. Charred
debris from the vehicle and –
grimly – even body parts from
the attacker lay all around us
outside. Unhelpfully, the first
announcement by jittery and
non-English speaking security
forces was that it was an insider
attack – when a disgruntled
individual shoots another from
the same side, and normally
they don’t consist of a massive
explosion. Anyway, it changed
our response somewhat, and
dragged out the incident
well past its conclusion – all
the while my Facebook page
sat open in the tumbled
confusion of my
desk,
somewhat surreally.
This was
one of the more
dramatic
moments
of the
tour,
and
Continued overleaf
MENORAH | 24
MENORAH | 25
Getting my own
Black Hawks
journey away from the airfield.
It would prove to be a tough,
occasionally nerve-wracking
and occasionally grim, but
almost always interesting 10
days as we supported another
big clearance operation.
Driving
through Kabul
Driving through Kabul was
always an experience, and
something I never got tired
of. This proved to be a regular
reminder of ordinary life in
Afghanistan, and some of
the sights were genuinely
surprising. In one part of the
city, goats would rummage
through rubbish by the side
of the road, with legless men
Annoyingly I’ve still got a feeling of over-pressure
in my left ear from the explosion, for which
the initial prescription from the US med centre
was the phlegm-releasing expectorant Mucinex,
somewhat randomly. It’s still not right.
hobbling by on crutches,
with roads barely worthy of
the name. Elsewhere, huge,
flashy, brightly lit “Wedding
Halls” dominated, resembling
Las Vegas casinos in their
ostentation and flashiness
– weddings are evidently a
big deal in Afghanistan.
In one part of town, a small
boy angrily threw a metal
bolt at our vehicle, though it
bounced off harmlessly. I had
seen him weighing something
in his hand as we approached,
then recognised the shape
of the chunk of metal as he
eyed us sullenly and I guessed
his intent, then laughed at
his brazenness as he hurled
the thing at us. Needless to
say we just drove on. Most
of the time, Afghans would
seem to just be ambivalent
towards us and generally
ignored us. Sometimes we’d
get flashes of anger at the
inconvenience we caused.
Occasionally someone would
give us a friendly greeting.
Traffic was always busy
and chaotic, and we would get
stuck in it like everyone else.
Often Afghans would take
their lives in their hands as
they attempted to cross the
road. I remember one time a
young woman in a headscarf
struggling to make her way
between the cars across the
multi-lane road. A keen-eyed
Afghan traffic cop, in his
characteristic white hat and
blue uniform, spotted her
distress and advanced into the
melee of cars with a real air
of nobility, lifting his hand to
stop the traffic to allow her to
cross. That gave me hope for
the future of Afghanistan.
Readjustment
Months on, I still think of
Afghanistan almost every
day. Occasionally I dream
about it. This tour was more
intense, more interesting and
much more satisfying than my
previous tour. I actually miss
it terribly, and it felt like it
took a long time to settle down
after getting back, feeling very
restless. Decompression in
Cyprus helped a lot with the
transition, where I managed
to do some dinghy sailing
and rode a horse for the first
time in my life, in a lovely
short Mediterranean respite.
Spending 3 weeks in Japan
during my post-operational
tour leave also helped a great
deal, but then I felt crushed by
the comparative mundaneness
of work after that. I
volunteered for another tour
in Afghanistan for September,
but they decided not to
continue that post. At last
I feel like I’m settling down
from the tour, but I miss the
camaraderie, the excitement,
the sense of purpose and the
satisfaction of working on
something important. I miss
the people I worked with – I
often wonder where they
are and what they’re up to.
I’m still in touch with some,
including one American
from the “Jewish Sabbath
Fellowship” at my base, for
which I briefly became the lay
leader (the first time I went,
not long after arrival, I was
slightly surprised that our
group should consist of a Brit,
a German and an American).
I miss the exoticness of
Afghanistan and working
alongside other nations. I
even miss the food sometimes
– a Turkish cookhouse that I
sometimes frequented served
some of the best food I’ve
ever had, and it was free! I
miss the scenery, and never
tired of that while I was there,
with Afghanistan’s imposing
and dramatic mountain
ranges – it could be a beautiful
tourist destination one day.
© Nate Derrick / shutterstock
It was a very cool experience
the first time I rode in US Black
Hawk helicopters. I had two,
just for me! I was in a new part
of the country, which was novel
in itself, but in trying to make
my way out to a small camp to
the south, I discovered that I
would be the only passenger
on the Black Hawks picking
me up. It was a fairly leisurely
pre-flight process – they took
my blood group and identity
details, and fortunately I
had the presence of mind
to ask the crew chief which
was the best seat to sit in.
He pointed and explained that
if I sat there, I’d get a good
view and also have the heaters
blowing in my face. Later in
the flight, I was very grateful
for the heater, though it did
nothing for my then frozen
legs and backside. Eventually
the engines started up and
the rotors started turning.
The
crew strapped on their
armoured faceplates,
which gave them
a sinister ninja
appearance
with just
their eyes
showing
behind ballistic eye protection,
and after a short delay and
final preparations, we lifted off.
To my surprise, we taxied like
regular aircraft, but about 3
metres off the ground, though
we quickly gained altitude when
we eventually “took off”. Lights
went out, and for about an hour
and a half, we flew over snowcapped ridges and mountain
tops lit by the eerie light of a
full moon. Occasionally there
were lights from buildings
or compounds, including
one which appeared to be
surrounded by multi-coloured
bright Christmas lights –
somewhat psychedelic, and an
odd sight in the otherwise dark
Afghan mountains. I looked for
the other Black Hawk, but could
not see it until we descended
to our destination airfield,
where I was deposited with my
pack, and found myself being
picked up in a gator and taken
to a somewhat forlorn and
lonely tent; the consequence
of the drawdown was that
the airfield was mostly rubble
bulldozed flat and utterly dark
at night. Travelling alone in
unfamiliar places where there
were no Brits could often be
a taxing experience, but to
my relief it wasn’t long before
my ride turned up for yet
another interesting journey
through the night to my
final destination – my final
surprise being that it was a
MENORAH | 26
MENORAH | 27
Torah to complement the full
size Paul Mervis Memorial
Scroll which will continue to
live at Amport House for use
at our major services. The new
scroll is perfectly portable and
will allow Padre Simon and me
to arrange services wherever
needed and where duty takes us.
“We are grateful to all
those who generously donated,
including many of our own
members, and to Stuart and
Sandra Rose who undertook a
NEW
HISTORICAL
SEFER TORAH
FOR ARMED
FORCES
T
hanks to the
generosity of the
Western Charitable
Foundation, the
Western Marble Arch Synagogue,
associated individuals and
members of our own military
community we have taken
on charge an historical Sefer
Torah which has now been
fully refurbished, has been
declared kosher and is now
usable. It will soon be adorned
with a new purple mantle
emblazoned with our crest.
sponsored bike ride in France to
raise funds towards our costs.”
It has been decided to
keep the appeal open to raise
more funds to build an Ark for
Amport House to hold both
our Torah scrolls. Anyone can
donate conveniently through
Smart Giving… Just go to
https://smartgiving.org.uk/
event/friends-of-jewishservicemen-?preview=1.
Hopefully they will soon give
us an easier link to use!
More Kosher
Ratpacks
As we go to press Padre Reuben
Livingstone will just have returned
from a month long deployment to
Suffield in Canada with 1 YORKS.
H
The scroll was originally part
of a collection presented to Czar
Nicholas II by a Russian Jewish
community and it is unlikely to
have been used for many years.
The parchment itself is little over
12 inches high and will enable
our chaplains to use it on their
travels around our dispersed
communities. Rabbi Reuben
Livingstone, Jewish chaplain to
HM Forces, who sourced the scroll
and arranged its refurbishment,
said: “I am delighted that we
now have this beautiful Sefer
9 November
Remembran
ce Shabbat S
er v ice
R ichmond Sy
nagogue
10 Novembe
r
Remembran
ce
Sunday
11 Novembe
r
A rmistice D
ay
15 Novembe
r
A JE X Shabb
at Ser v ice
St John’s W
ood Sy nagogu
e
MENORAH | 28
16 Novembe
r
A JE X Natio
nal
Remembran
ce Ser v ice
& Parade W
hitehal l
2015
9-11 January
A rmed Forc
es Jew ish
Weekend A m
port Hou
5 March
Purim
4-11 April
Passover
se
© Rhonda Roth / shutterstock
DIaRY DATES 2014
e probably needed
the exercise as
his previous task
was to oversee,
and no doubt test, the
production of 30,000 kosher
operational ration packs.
He said: “Remarkably, over
the last three years we have
munched our way through
many, many thousands
of these. Apparently the
Halal eaters also rather like
them. Lots of taste tweaks
and excellent lean quality
Gilbert’s meat, which is
certified as Halal as well
as Kosher, will make these
the best ever - and top of
the line in Ratpack terms!
Anyway, the guy on the right
of the photo in the ridiculous
face-rig is the shomer.”
We are incredibly fortunate
to have MOD funding and
support for Kosher ORP’s. The
over runs can be absorbed into
the wider system and kosher
is also Halal for Muslims
(the fairly anonymous
‘K’ designation is rather
helpful in contrast to Halal
meals which have a specific
religious logo). Padre Reuben
continued: “It is absolutely
essential to indent for these
using the NSN number
and not to take no for an
answer. If we don’t use a
bulk of the ORP’s ourselves
then this massive amenity
may not be extended to us!
There will be a significant
number of these (around
3,000) depoted at Bicester
and available through the
system for anyone who asks.”
You can demand kosher
ORPs through your unit.
Make sure your QM is
aware of the NSN number
8970-99-190-6873.
A Jewish
serviceman of
two world wars
remembered
W
hile Joe
Silver, the
membership
officer of the
Friends of Jewish Servicemen
and Women was researching
his family history, especially
the military connections,
he realised that his late
uncle, Jacob Silverberg,
his father’s brother, was
buried in Failsworth Jewish
Cemetery in Manchester
but had no headstone.
Jacob Silverberg’s service
was unusual. He joined the
Royal Lancaster Regiment in
July 1916 and two months
later he was fighting in
Arras and Ypres where he
was wounded and evacuated
back home. On recovery
he transferred to the Royal
Flying Corps, to become
the RAF, and served on
London Defences until he
was demobilised in 1919.
He rejoined the RAF in
WWII and spent four years
in the UK and South Africa.
Joe felt his memory had to be
recorded and a headstone was
commissioned and unveiled
during Armed Forces Week
in the presence of Col Martin
Newman, in his capacity as
Deputy Lieutenant of Greater
Manchester, Wing Commander
Roy Catterall DL of the RAF,
Captain Andy Holsgrove
of the Duke of Lancaster’s
Regiment, representatives of
AJEX and their standards and
members of the Silver family
who travelled from all over
the UK and from overseas.
The service was conducted
by Rabbi Yanky Prijs of The
Meade Hill Synagogue , the
Last Post was sounded by a
synagogue member and Col
Newman recited Kaddish
on behalf of the family.
Joe said: “It was right and
proper that Jacob’s memory
is perpetuated and I would
like to thank everyone
involved for making the
moving ceremony possible.”
MENORAH | 29
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We are proud to be a service
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© mythja, Digivic, RTimages / shutterstock
In 2013, ALL ABOARD raised
funds for more than 50 charitable
causes, each of whom were
desperate for the financial help,
following government funding cuts
and difficult financial times for
many of their staunch supporters.
We were able to do this by turning
unwanted items into money and
we intend to go from strength to
strength in the coming years.
Wishing you all a delicious New Year!
MENORAH | 31
The
Liberation
of
The British army torch the huts of
Bergen-Belsen following the liberation
Bergen-Belsen was originally a prisoner of war camp,
established in a huge military complex in the North of
Germany. In 1943 part of the camp was taken over by the Nazi
SS to become a ‘holding camp’, intended for Jews who could
be exchanged for German civilians held by enemy powers.
P
risoners suitable
for exchange were
usually citizens of
an Allied country
or had emigration papers
from the British authorities in
Palestine. Living conditions
were initially better than at
other concentration camps,
and prisoners were allowed
personal belongings and
to wear their own clothes.
However, only 2560 Jewish
prisoners were released
from Bergen-Belsen prior
MENORAH | 32
to the liberation.
By March 1944, the camp
had expanded to house male
prisoners no longer able to
work to recuperate before
being sent back to other camps
to work as forced labourers.
Thousands of them died at
Bergen-Belsen of disease,
starvation and exhaustion.
From August 1944, a woman’s
camp was created. Those
who could work were quickly
moved on to other slave
labour camps, but many
remained including Anne
Frank and her sister Margot
who died in March 1945.
The SS began to move
prisoners from the front lines
during 1944. From December
1944, over 85,000 adults
and children were brought to
Bergen-Belsen by transport
in cattle cars or on death
marches which could last
for weeks. The camp became
increasingly over-crowded,
there was little or no food
and epidemics began to
break out among prisoners
A British soldier talks to an emaciated
prisoner. The prisoner, Louis Bonerguer,
was also British and had been dropped
by parachute to work in German
occupied territory in 1941. After his
capture, he was interned at Belsen.
with no attempt at medical
help from the SS. As late as
April 1945, thousands more
prisoners were brought to the
camps and at the time of the
© Ronald Wilfred Jansen, Patricia Hofmeester, Yakovlev Sergey/ shutterstock
BergenBelsen
liberation there were at least
53,000 people housed there.
British troops entered
Bergen-Belsen on 15th April
1945. They found over 13,000
unburied bodies and many
more severely ill and starving
inmates. Richard Dimbleby
accompanied the liberating
forces, and his comments
were broadcast on the BBC:
‘Here over an acre of ground
lay dead and dying people...
Norman and Gena Turgel
Gena’s wedding dress was made
of British parachutes.
The living lay with their
heads against the corpses
and around them moved the
awful, ghostly procession of
emaciated, aimless people,
with nothing to do and with
no hope of life, unable to move
out of your way, unable to look
at the terrible sights around
them ... This day at Belsen was
the most horrible of my life.’
Harold Burgh, a British
Jewish soldier, was only 21
when he entered BergenBelsen in 1945. As the
seventy year anniversary of
the liberation of the camp
approaches, he still remembers
the stench of bodies awaiting
burial that pervaded the
surrounding countryside. He
saw local German men and
women brought in to move the
piles of corpses, while pleading
that they had no idea of what
had happened so close to their
homes. Burgh remembers
hundreds of people dying from
food brought by the liberating
army. Fresh bread and meat
was too much for already
starving people, left without
food and water for days due to
the Allied advance. At the end
of each day all of the British
soldiers stripped and were
sprayed with
pesticides,
then given
fresh
uniforms.
This was
to prevent
the spread
of typhus,
which was
rampant in Reverend Isaac Levy’s
dress uniform, on
the camp
display in the Jewish
and claimed Military Museum
the lives of many prisoners
and some of the medical
staff who came to help
them. Over 14,000 of the
liberated prisoners had
died by June 1945.
Two Jewish Chaplains
were crucial to the liberation
of the camp, Reverend Isaac
Levy and Reverend Leslie
Hardman. They worked
tirelessly, bringing hope to
survivors, holding services and
undertaking mass funerals in
cooperation with the Royal
Engineers who used bulldozers
to bury the bodies. Reverend
Levy had previously been
serving in the Middle East,
where he was captured by the
Afrika Corps. At Bergen-Belsen
he worked tirelessly with the
former prisoners, speaking of
their incredulous reaction on
seeing the Star of David on
the cap of an army officer.
One of the first liberators
at the camp was Sergeant
Rev Leslie Hardman CF, Senior
Jewish Chaplain 2nd Army was
present at the liberation
Norman Turgel. He was
shown around the hospital
by Gena, a survivor of
Polish ghettos who came to
Belsen via Buchenwald. Six
months later, the two were
married by the Reverend
Hardman who described
the wedding as ‘a symbol of
hope after so much death’.
Roz Currie
Curator at the Jewish
Military Museum
MENORAH | 33
Meade Hill Synagogue in
Manchester hosted a special
Shabbat service attended by
serving and AJEX members.
The Chief Rabbi’s Prayer for
our Armed Forces was recited
throughout the country.
Col Martin Newman said:
“Armed Forces Day is an
opportunity for the whole
Service family, from veterans,
serving regular and volunteer
personnel, members of the
Jewish members of
HM Forces took part
in Armed Forces
Day celebrations
throughout the UK.
T
he main Jewish
event, organised
by AJEX, was held
at the National
Memorial Arboretum in
Staffordshire where the
reviewing officer was Lt Col
Simon Soskin, Brigade Major
of the Household Division.
Wreaths were laid on behalf
of AJEX by Jeffrey Fox, the
AJEX National Chairman and
Brian Bloom, Lt Col Soskin
along with some Normandy
veterans and by Col Martin
Newman for the Armed Forces
cadet forces, their friends,
supporters and families, to
join forces while the country
pays tribute to the work and
sacrifices made by those
men and women who have
served, are serving or who
will serve in the future.
“I would like to express my
thanks to AJEX for taking
the lead in so many of these
events. It is always a delight to
march alongside our veterans.”
Stephanie and Stuart Ronson
wish you a safe, speedy
return to your native land
Tel: 01923 850100
Email: [email protected]
AJEX is
here
for them,
for you
and for the future…
• AJEX Remembrance •
Jewish Community. Two
moving ceremonies were held,
first at the AJEX Memorial
and then at the Normandy
Veterans’ site. Jeffrey Fox
welcomed the participants and
guests, which included local
school and college students,
and said how pleased he was
to have such a senior Jewish
officer in such a high profile
post taking the salute.
On Armed Forces Shabbat
– Armed Forces Day itself –
members of the community
in uniform attended morning
services at their local
synagogues. In London Padre
Reuben Livingstone and
AFJC secretary, Brian Bloom
led the now traditional walk
about visiting synagogues
in North West London. The
A JE X
in the
you to jo
Invites
ranch,
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urrent
ng of c
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for
e
serving
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For the sacrifices of the
past and the present
• AJEX Welfare •
Offers help to
ex-servicemen and
women and
their dependents in need
• AJEX Education •
Wide reaching programmes in conjunction
with our Jewish Military Museum
The wreath party
at the Normany
Veterans’ Memorial
EST. SINCE 1960
Solomon Levy FRICS
Estate Agents • Property Consultants • Valuers & Auctioneers
www.gibestateagents.com
[email protected]
“The longest established Estate
Agent practising in Gibraltar”
Whether looking to buy, sell or rent property in
Gibraltar or Southern Spain, with over fifty years
experience, at Solomon Levy FRICS we are here
to help you in whatever way possible.
Sole Director, S. Levy MBE EDJP
Lt Col Soskin, the Reviewing officer
MENORAH | 34
Wishing all the Ajex readers
a Happy & Kosher Passover
3 Convent Place, Gibraltar • Phone: (+350) 20077789 or (+350) 20042818
AJEX Head Office
and Jewish Military Museum
Shield House, Harmony Way, London, NW4 2BZ
Head Office Tel: 020 8202 2323 Museum Tel: 020 8201 5656
Email: [email protected] Visit: www.ajex.org.uk
We buy your old Jewish and
Zionist books, Manuscripts,
Letters, Silverware etc.
`